Living with chronic illness can feel SO isolating & misunderstood. From the outside looking in it’s hard to understand and from the inside looking out it’s extremely hard to explain all the depth. Chronic illness is so hard especially when it’s invisible for people to grasp the intense symptoms and hardships one goes through on a daily basis.
So your friend/spouse/roommate/ colleague/ neighbor/ child has a chronic illness and you don’t want to say the wrong thing? Read this article to know what to AVOID saying. If you yourself have a chronic illness & you don’t want to be asked hurtful questions- pass this article along to your peers or share it on social media to avoid any frustrating hurtful conversations!
- “It could always be worse.”
This is extremely invalidating, rude & dismissive. If a friend is crying over a break up (a normal part of life experience) would you ever tell them this? NO! So why does one think it’s okay to say this to someone whos living with CHRONIC ILLNESS.
- “My cousin/neighbor/dad has that disease & hes fine!”
First, thats great for them! But how do you know they are fine? Second, maybe they are but that just proves each body & case is so different. You can have the same diagnosis as someone and live a completely different life. Lastly, what is the point in telling someone suffering this? This will only bring them down and or not feel believed.
- “I see you’re out! So glad you’re better!”
This statement is the reason I have social media anxiety. Chronic = forever, we are stuck with our health- we owe it to ourselves to try to go out sometimes! We spend enough time homebound. Also a reminder for healthy people, just because someone is out does not mean they are pain free! Sometimes & unfortunately us superheroes learn to cope with high pain levels in order to do some things.
- “Have you tried _____?” from a healthy person.
I know this question can come from love but also think, don’t you think the person living with the pain has tried everything? If not in the process of. Living with chronic illness(es) you will hear suggestions that are rational to the most absurd, and irs extremely frustrating. So please refrain from asking someone this question.
- But you are so young”
& right now you sound so ignorant. Chronic illness doesn’t start at a certain age. We are aware we are young & having to navigate our youth dealing with this.
- “You shouldn’t eat ____”
Another pet peeve. Our bodies are SO different. You would be so surprised what is and what isn’t good for many different illnesses. Each body is so different and just because it’s healthy to you doesn’t mean it can be tolerable to someone else.
- “You were fine 5 minutes ago”
Yes I was fine 5 minutes ago and my pain comes at such random times OR I wasn’t fine five minutes ago I just didn’t reach the unbearable level until now.
- “You are so unreliable.”
Chronic illness superheroes already carry a lot of guilt with not being able to commit, not be there for others as much as they want to, and for the drastic changes in life. Refrain from saying this there is no point & will only cause hurt. Please know, we are doing everything we can to maintain our commitments and friendships and we don’t want the sick life.
- “Disease is all in the mind.”
This is extremely invalidating. Yes the mindset is everything & sometimes you have to rise above however whether you think about your symptoms or not your disease is still present in the body. This is a major form of gaslighting & usually comes from healthy people who do not have any incurable illness.
- “You don’t look sick”
While this could be said from a place of good intentions, it’s just invalidating. Not everything and everyone looks like what is happening. Some people are able to hide things. All this statement does is invalidates the one suffering.
- “You look great, have you lost weight?”
I truly don’t think it’s ever ok to comment on someone’s weight. Weight comments perceived as good or bad can very much negatively affect someone. The more comments one hears on their body will have them fixated on their body. Living with chronic illness, being on steroids, and suffering with eating my body has changed a number of times & it is very damaging to my mental health.
- “I know how you feel” from a healthy person.
Comparing acute pain to chronic pain diminishes what chronically ill superheroes go through & can be very offensive. Empathizing with others is so powerful but making one feel more alone, misunderstood & isolated will happen with this statement BY a healthy person.
- “It must be nice to be in bed.”
Ooof if only they knew. Sure it’s nice to be in bed after a stressful day or a rainy day once in a BLUE MOON. Having to be in bed in terrible pain or suffering with cement like fatigue NOT in the real world, not learning in school or working making an income, or just SOCIALIZING LIVING LIFE being out and about is WAY nicer than being forced to be in bed DUE TO OUR HEALTH. People will chronic illness
- “You take so many medications, are you sure you need all of them?”
Most chronically ill people do not want to have to rely on medications. Before they got sick, they were most probably taking slim to non medications so this comment is so unnecessary & invalidating.
- “At least it’s not cancer”
This comment is so not right. Of course at least it’s not cancer but guess what- many illnesses and or treatments are just as severe as cancer. Comparing illnesses is very disrespectful. Many diseases destroy lives, and just because it’s not cancer doesn’t mean this illness isn’t crippling away someone’s mental & physical life!
- “Is your weight the cause of your chronic illness?”
No one should ever comment on anyone’s weight period. It’s 2022 and you would think I shouldn’t need to say this, but people still do. Having arthritis, Crohns disease, Lupus, Fibromylgia etc etc can happen to anyone at any weight!!! This comment is highly offensive & also sounds like that person caused their chronic illness.
- You should change your diet.
Every single body is so different & every single bodies needs are so different. What is healthy to one person could be harm to another. For example raw veggies, salads, nuts all the things classified as healthy arr some of the worst things I can put in my crohns body. So please don’t criticize anyone’s diet- you don’t know what they can handle and what they can’t.
- “I have had such a bad day as well… proceeds to talk about minimal things”
Yes of course everyone’s bad days are valid but sometimes you have to remember to choose YOUR AUDIENCE. Are you really going to complain about being late to work when you’re talking to someone who can’t work right now due to their health?
For more advice & tips check out the rest of my blogs & my instagram @invisiblysicklala
Sending you so much love & strength Lala